The Royal Melbourne Show – the “State Fair” of Melbourne

I missed the Wisconsin State Fair this year so was thrilled when I heard about the Royal Melbourne Show. In many ways, the two events are very similar but there are also some big differences. Both are family friendly, feature carnival rides and exhibit and judge animals. Both demonstrate products that everyone “must have” and each tempts fairgoers with countless food choices. Although you see the typical food stands and trucks, most of the food choices at the Show are in a really nice, organized food tent. A short-term, rotating pop-up restaurant featured a gourmet menu.

One big difference in events is the concept of “show bags.” At the Wisconsin State Fair you see people walking around with plastic bags, collecting assorted free trinkets and product samples. In Melbourne, they have taken this to the extreme. There is a huge gift bag pavilion, where fairgoers choose from almost 400(!) different  show bags, which could include toys, costumes, sporting goods, cosmetics, magazines, deli/wine, candy and more. Products inside amount to more — sometimes much more — than the selling price and bag prices go from $1 (for a candy or “lolly” bag) to $30. Almost everyone was happily carrying some kind of show bag!


G’day from Melbourne!

We have settled into our new home away from home and couldn’t be more pleased. Our airbnb apartment, billed as “Fitzroy St with the WOW factor,” did not disappoint. The wall of glass doors open to a sweeping view of the Melbourne city skyline and the ocean. The one bedroom space is comfortable and seems to have everything we need for our 2-month stay. It is located in Melbourne’s St. Kilda neighborhood, a lively and eclectic area of restaurants, bars and great people watching. Directly across the street from us is scenic Albert Park. On our second day here, I took a bike ride around the park’s lake, utilizing the city’s handy bike rental system. Albert Park also has a golf course, sport fields and an amazing Olympic aquatic center. Frank is trying to stay in his routine with his new “swim heaven,” enjoying its many lap lanes (two 50m pools!). We have picked out our favorite grocery store (a Woolworth’s, which everyone calls “Woolie’s), identified a nearby church for Sunday Mass and are learning to navigate Melbourne’s convenient transportation system of trams and trains.

PS I haven’t actually heard anyone say “G’day” yet but there are some unique “Australian-isms” I will write about soon.

What’s with the name?

Fifth grade. Mrs. Orten’s class. The teacher had two “clubs” posted on the blackboard – TC and WW. TC was “Talkers Club” and WW was “Waltzing Wanderers.” Beneath each acronym was a list of offenders. Occasionally, you’d find my name under TC but under WW? Let’s just say I was a chronic member.

Flash forward. I’m still antsy and perpetually curious. For the past 50 years I’ve lived within a mile of that fifth grade classroom but have had the opportunity to travel extensively, particularly with my husband Frank and our two boys, Nick and Andy. In turn, the boys have boldly gone off on their own adventures, those of which they can write about on their own blogs(!).

So they’re grown and onto their careers. We downsized our belongings, sold our home in suburbia and rented an apartment in downtown Milwaukee. It’s great being able to walk everywhere – to restaurants, church, the grocery store. I love the diversity of the people, the downtown “vibe” and the never ending number of activities, but… Yes, there’s a but.

But, I want to see what else is out there. But, I want to explore some places we haven’t been. But, I want to stay long enough to really experience a place. (Not to mention the “but” I hate Milwaukee’s dreadful winters!)

And we have this window. Frank is feeling 10 years younger after a successful kidney transplant 3-1/2 years ago. Mom and Dad are healthy. The kids are doing great with no one getting married, graduating, having babies, etc. And, not having the responsibility of a house any more, we can pay rent anywhere we want! So that’s what we’re going to do. We are putting our belongings in storage, our lease is up in a month and we will begin our great adventure! We will be gypsies or to put it more elegantly, Waltzing Wanderers.